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Delhi riots: Dissent against use of violence was overruled in WA groups behind conspiracy

Delhi riots

New Delhi: An alleged conspiracy that resulted into full blown riots in the national capital earlier this year is said to have been a co-ordinated effort of many, however, the charge sheet filed in the case also highlights the fact that there were at times voices of dissent within the groups. These voices against violence though were crushed then and there.

According to the statement of one of the accused in the charge sheet, on the intervening night of February 16-17, a secret meeting was called at Chand Bagh after it was confirmed that US President Donald Trump was all set to come to India.

Apart from accused Athar, the meeting was also attended by Gulfisha, Natasha, Devangana, Salim Malik and some others. Though Owais Sultan was not called to the meeting, he still joined. Many of the attendees were collectively of the view that the government has to be brought down to its knees and for that they could do anything and everything, the charge sheet shows.

According to Athar’s statement in the charge sheet, while the meeting was on, Gulfisha said that it was the right time to take the protest to a next level and the Chakka Jaam (road block) strategy shall be executed in the national capital. Gulfisha had said that first, Chakka Jaam would take place and then it would be taken to the next level i.e. violent protests.

Opposing that, Owais Sultan had said that this would cause problem to the people and would also result in violence and riots but no one paid heed to Sultan’s words. In fact, the other attendees supported the violence and had said “Thodi bohot hinsa (violence) toh chalti hai”.

It was also decided that the protestors would be directed to keep red chilli powder, sticks, stones etc, in the tent so that it could be used later as weapons. Sultan again opposed these but was overruled again.

He had made his objection public in the DPSG WhatsApp group but again overruled, the charge sheet said.

According to the WhatsApp messages of the Delhi Protests Support Group (DPSG) mentioned in the charge sheet, on February 17 afternoon, when Athar had posted about the meeting that took place the night before in Chand Bagh saying that it failed as some uninvited guests too attended the meeting, Sultan had said that he attended the meeting and the idea of roadblock was opposed by him and many others.

Another member of the group had supported the stand taken by Sultan and stated that “road block is the worst form of protest” and the same shall not be adopted. Following which Athar had deleted the message that talked about road block.

Sultan had questioned the deletion and said, “…some local people have evidence of what you were discussing last night about your plans of road block and the proposal to incite violence…So, don’t play with fire…our protest will stay non violent.”

Sultan”had strongly said, “Itna samajh lo violence nahi karne denge tumhe aur tumhare doston ko.”

This was not the first time that Sultan had dissented, he also got in to an argument on the same WhatsApp group with filmmaker Rahul Roy.

The alleged conspiracy of the said violence is claimed to be prepared on around 10 WhatsApp groups including Muslim Students of JNU, CAB Team, Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC), Delhi Protest Support Group (DPSG) etc.

According to the police, two Facebook pages — one of JNU scholar Sharjeel Imam and the other of Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC) too were used actively in the conspiracy not only to discuss the plans but also to disseminate information to larger masses and garner support.

The fresh charge sheet which runs into about 17,000 pages was filed in FIR 59/2020. The FIR invokes the Unlawful Prevention Activities Act (UAPA) against students and activists including Umar Khalid, a former JNU student activist, who is referred to as the main accused in the case.

Communal violence broke out in North-East Delhi on February 24 after clashes between the Citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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